Why mobile money is so tough to crack in South Africa
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” So reads the opening line of Leon Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. The novel comes to mind when looking at the prospects that confront mobile money. Success stories have many similarities, but failed efforts fail for their own different and varied reasons.
There is a renewed push to get mobile money going again in South Africa. Most recently, MTN announced it hopes that its money service launched in a partnership of sorts with Pick n Pay and other retailers could contribute as much as 15% of its total revenues in South Africa. And Vodacom has just re-launched M-Pesa here after a previous effort, started in 2010, fizzled out.
Several valiant efforts by banks — and the heroics of Wizzit — in extending mass retail banking and efficient payment mechanism for the unbanked can’t go unmentioned. But these offerings have also struggled to get mass market traction.